I think a lot of Mormons, including myself, have been put on the defensive lately because of all the media buzz surrounding Mormons. It seems anyone that has an opinion about Mormons is sharing it via news outlets, blogs and facebook. It is normally not hard to get a Mormon to feel and act defensive, it kind of goes with the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Historically Mormons have had to defend themselves on just about every issue pertaining to the Church, and many times these conflicts have resulted in violence and even death.
I hate feeling defensive all the time. I hate feeling like I’m going to have to combat all the false information that is out there about Mormons that I seem to run across everyday online or on TV. But, I realized something a few days ago, I don’t need to feel defensive all the time, or really hardly ever. I was trying to remember the last time I felt falsely judged or personally attacked because of my religion or beliefs. I don’t remember exactly, but I’m pretty sure the last time was in high school. There were a few instances in college where people would come to BYU campus and try to make a scene, but I didn’t feel personally attacked then. I would put that on the same level as internet comments. I don’t feel personally attacked or judged unless the person knows me personally and says the comments to my face. Otherwise, I think people are just trying to stir up controversy to get attention and share their opinions.
I really have had very few experiences where people have personally attacked my beliefs. I have actually had really positive experiences where friends and acquaintances have been very respectful and understanding of my beliefs. Especially in areas where we disagree or they think the beliefs are just too out there I have noticed people really put effort into trying to be understanding and non-judgmental. And when I say understanding and non-judgmental I don’t mean sterile. People kindly tease my husband or myself all the time about the more peculiar aspects of our religion. They do it in a way that lets us know that for them it is a little far-fetched but what we believe does not bother or threaten them. Everyone has different experiences but my experience is that the large majority of people are kind enough and understanding enough to accept me with friendship even if my beliefs are different from theirs. I try to be as kind and accepting as they are, and you know what, it makes life a lot more fun and interesting when I’m surrounded by a variety of people with a variety of view points and we can all appreciate each other for our differences.